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Photo: Jim Davis/Globe Staff
Marc Wallerce (left), owner of the Winthrop Marketplace, greets Jeffrey Carson of Mi-Amore as Carson picks up food for distribution to families that need it.

Wow, there are as many ways to get food to people who might otherwise go hungry as there are people who want to end hunger. It was only a couple weeks ago that I posted about a food initiative in Toronto. Here’s one in Massachusetts.

Alison Arnett writes at the Boston Globe, “In 2014, Jeffrey Carson heard an NPR piece about how much food was wasted in America despite ongoing hunger. It hit a nerve with Carson, who himself had grown up in a family dependent on food stamps and had just had his first child, and he determined that he wanted to do something about it. ‘I wanted my daughter to come up in volunteerism that was part of our life,’ he added, not just something ‘we volunteered for once a year.’

“So Carson and his wife, Suzanne, both veterans, began to work on creating a nonprofit in Winthrop where they live. The idea for Mi-Amore seemed ‘so simple,’ says Carson: Food was going to waste — in the United States it is estimated that as much as 30 percent to 40 percent of edible food is wasted each year — and yet there were people who went hungry. As military officers, both he and his wife were used to finding solutions to problems, Carson says.

“There were many snags along the way, but today Mi-Amore provides food for 40 elderly people, single-parent families, and recovering addicts in Winthrop. Unusual among food relief programs where recipients must go to a central soup kitchen or food aid office open only restricted hours, Mi-Amore’s eight volunteers, all Winthrop residents, pick up the donated food three times a week and deliver it to the homes of the recipients. Most families get at least one delivery of food a week. The program has a board of town residents, and donations of surplus food from the Winthrop Marketplace, several restaurants, assisted-living centers, and schools. …

“Half of the recipients are children. When asked about recovering addicts, Carson says that ‘recovering’ can be a loose term but is quick to recount what one board member, a school nurse, told him. ‘Having food in your refrigerator sometimes is the line between recovering or not,’ she said, adding that the stress of no food can push some over the edge.

“The beginnings of Mi-Amore, in its third year, weren’t smooth, Carson says. After he and his wife did the structural work to set up a nonprofit, he contacted restaurants and other businesses about donating food that might go to waste, surprised when he got refusals or no answers. But then, Carson said, he met two women, Amie Hanrahan of The Arbors Assisted Living Communities and Ann Vasquez of La Siena restaurant, who immediately ‘got it,’ Carson says. … From that beginning, the program started to gain momentum.”

I’m not really surprised that two former military officers have shown perseverance when faced with the challenges of launching something new. As Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton, a former Marine, has often said in the context of what sorts of people he’d like to see run for office, veterans are generally people who are motivated by public service more than personal gain.

Jeffrey and Suzanne Carson strike me as perfect examples of veterans motivated by public service.

More at the Boston Globe, here.

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Photo: Emerald Necklace Conservancy
Starting August 11, five “fog sculptures” by artist Fujiko Nakaya will grace the string of Boston parks known as the Emerald Necklace until the end of October. Nakaya uses a system of pumps, pressurized hoses, and ultrafine nozzles to create her sculptures.

You can make art from almost anything, but you need an artist’s imagination to see the possibilities. I notice that in my grandchildren, who take on creative projects that seem impossible to dull adults — like making a necklace with a heavy rock and some paper. In this story, artist Fujika Nakaya saw the possibilities of fog.

As Graham Ambrose reports at the Boston Globe, “The Emerald Necklace, Boston’s 7-mile pendant of parks built in the 19th century, will soon have a new adornment: a string of artworks made from water vapor.

“This summer, artist Fujiko Nakaya will debut ‘fog sculptures’ at five sites along the Necklace. The immersive sculptures — wafting clouds of machine-made mist — will be viewable from dawn to dusk between Aug. 11 and Oct. 31. …

“Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston hailed the project, calling the Emerald Necklace ‘a crown jewel in the City of Boston’ in a statement to the Globe. ‘Similar to the intent of the Emerald Necklace, art has a connecting power, bringing together people from all different backgrounds and all different places.’ …

“Nakaya, born in Japan in 1933, calls fog ‘the most generous of mediums.’ Since 1969 she has built more than 80 fog sculptures across four continents, transforming open spaces into dreamlike landscapes with custom-designed installations. …

Fog is living and dying. It condenses and evaporates simultaneously, with dynamism and vulnerability. It is a positive and negative,” Nakaya told the Globe. …

“To create her sculptures, which emit fog in controlled intervals, Nakaya uses a patented system of pumps, pressurized hoses, and ultrafine nozzles. Computer software receives weather data and alters fog flow to suit wind speeds, dew point, temperature, and humidity.”

Read about the dramatic origins of the sponsoring conservancy at the Boston Globe, here. The Emerald Necklace was the work of landscape visionary Frederick Law Olmsted, who also created designs for New York’s Central Park, the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and more.

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Photo: Keith Bedford/Globe Staff
Djennyfer Joseph, who is from Haiti, filled an order at the Shake Shack on Newbury Street.

One of the places I volunteer to help adults learn English is Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) in Boston. The students come from all over the world as JVS is a resettlement agency as well as a job-placement agency, but the majority that I have met are either Latino or Haitian.

Although my focus is on helping people learn English, I’ve come to appreciate the way JVS prepares students for the workplace. It actually finds the jobs for them and has many partnerships with companies that need entry-level workers whether or not they speak much English yet. As Boston’s labor market gets tighter, more businesses are seeking out these workers.

Katie Johnston at the Boston Globe provides a window on the phenomenon.

“The lunch rush was just beginning at Shake Shack on Newbury Street and the all-American tasks of grilling burgers and making milkshakes were being handled by a crew made up almost entirely of immigrants — from Haiti, Senegal, Morocco, El Salvador, and Ethiopia.

“But these weren’t just people who happened to apply for a job: All of them were actively recruited by the restaurant chain, including those who spoke little English — a marked difference from years past, when only workers with strong English skills made the cut.

“Like other employers struggling to fill jobs in a tight labor market, Shake Shack has started seeking out candidates it might not have considered before. Spaulding Rehabilitation Network is opening the door to those with criminal backgrounds, in partnership with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department. CVS is bumping up its efforts to attract workers with disabilities, while other employers are lowering experience and education requirements. …

“As Northeastern University economist Alicia Sasser Modestino puts it: ‘We have gone through all the easy-to-employ people, and we’re down to the hard-to-employ people.’

“And, as it turns out, some of these ‘hard-to-employ’ people make excellent workers.

“Djennyfer Joseph, 22, was enrolled in an English class for just three weeks at Jewish Vocational Service when her case manager called to tell her she had an interview at Shake Shack. ‘I was like, what, already?’ said Joseph, who came to the United States from Haiti in 2016. ‘It was so fast.’

“Joseph, who studied English in Haiti and also speaks French and Haitian Creole, has been at the Newbury Street restaurant for less than a year and is working toward becoming a cross-trainer, a kind of jack-of-all-trades role that comes with a bump in pay from $12 to $14 an hour. Joseph also recently became a certified nursing assistant, a profession in high demand, but plans to keep working at Shake Shack even after she finds a job in health care.

“Shake Shack managers say [the] roughly two dozen immigrants — many of them refugees — that the restaurant has hired through Jewish Vocational Service over the past year are more than making up for the decrease in the number and quality of college students and American-born adults applying for jobs there. …

“Of course, hiring these nontraditional workers can present challenges for employers, who might have to make adjustments for someone who is blind or has a limited grasp of English.

“At Shake Shack, non-native English speakers are taught specific restaurant phrases, such as ’86’ (get rid of) or ‘drop a wave’ (cook eight burgers at once). Many of them speak French, and translations are posted in the walk-in cooler and kitchen: ‘Changez vos gants means change your gloves’ and ‘Bon travail means good job.’ ”

More at the Boston Globe, here. The article also covers “Triangle in Malden, which trains and supports people with disabilities and [is seeing an uptick in] requests for workers, largely from health care and retail companies.” And you can read about how the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department helps employers place promising ex-offenders.

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Photo: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The museum now offers free family admission to new citizens.

The magnificent collections of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts have gotten out of reach for many people as admission on most days has escalated. So it was with great interest that I read at the MFA website about a generous program for one deserving group of people: New Americans.

“Starting July 1, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), [began welcoming] newly naturalized U.S. citizens living in Massachusetts with complimentary one-year family memberships through a new program called MFA Citizens — the first of its kind in the country. …

“Engaging new citizens is part of the MFA’s ongoing efforts to build a more inclusive community of visitors, volunteers, staff and supporters, fostering the next generation of museum-goers and professionals that reflects the region’s changing demographics. …

“New citizens can sign up for the program by showing a copy or photo of their naturalization certificates at any MFA ticket desk within one year of their ceremony.

“In addition to free admission to the MFA for one year for two adults and unlimited children (ages 17 and under), discounts on programs, shopping, parking and dining, and invitations to member events, the MFA Citizens membership includes a special in-person welcome packet in a custom-designed tote bag. Included in the packet [is] information about upcoming exhibitions and programs — available in Spanish, Chinese, Haitian Creole and Portuguese, the most common non-English languages spoken at home in Boston. On-site signage in these languages will also be placed at the MFA’s Huntington, Fenway, and Schools and Groups entrances to encourage enrollment. …

“The Museum will work with Project Citizenship, the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement and Boston Public Library to raise awareness of the MFA Citizens program among the approximately 25,000 immigrants who are expected to go through the naturalization process across the Commonwealth within the next year. …

“In addition to hosting ESL classes and conversation groups, Boston Public Library’s Central Library in Copley Square and 24 neighborhood branches house Immigrant Information Corners, which provide information about resources and services available to help advance the well-being of the city’s immigrant residents.”

They don’t put this initiative in terms of the current controversies swirling around immigration, but to me it feels like an institution taking a positive stand in a troubling climate. I hope it will catch on.

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Photos: Bo Zhao
Boston has put a colorful park under Interstate 93. Bright lights, art, 24-hour security, and an ever changing array of events are expected to connect communities that the highway long divided.

When I had a chunk of free time at my last job, I’d take a walk over to an artsy part of Boston called SoWa, for “South of Washington Street.” It was a place of antique dealers, a homeless shelter, art galleries, and farmers markets.

As interesting as SoWa was, it abutted a bleak wasteland under Interstate 93. People had to walk under there — I walked under there — because the highway divided the neighborhood. But it was creepy.

Saturday saw the opening of an unusual park under the highway. I wasn’t there, but a former colleague who manages to see everything of interest in the city got a kick out of it, commenting that he was surprised to find the park is so near Boston’s public Harbor Walk. He shared his photos here.

at the Daily Free Press provided the background. “National Development, the developer of Ink Block, is partnering with Reebok to make the project a reality. The park, which was originally an 8-acre underpass between South Boston and the South End, will feature a pedestrian and bicycle boardwalk, 175 parking spaces for local businesses and a mural wall, according to the release.

“Ted Tye, the managing partner at National Development, said the park was originally supposed to be a plain, normal park when the Massachusetts Department of Transportation started on the project across the street from where their Ink Block brand is located. Once National Development gained access to the project; however, the idea changed. …

“Tye said the idea behind incorporating the murals, which was curated by Street Theory, artistic duo Victor ‘Marka27’ Quiñonez and Liza Quiñonez, was to appeal to companies and younger generations looking to find their start in Boston. …

“Tye said, ‘It makes it really an exciting, new destination, a new playground in the city, and we’ll be extending that not just with our opening event [September 9] but looking into next year with some really great programming.’

“Another reason for opening the park, Tye said, is to connect the neighboring communities of South Boston and the South End and to make the area surrounding the Broadway Bridge safer to walk.

“ ‘By filling in this area with a place that’s well-lit, with a place that will have 24-hour security, with a place that will have lots of people, and activity, and music and art — it makes that gap a lot shorter,’ Tye said. ‘The people that are moving into the Ink Block area are now feeling really good about walking to South Boston, about using the Broadway T station, and it just really connects the two communities.’

“Sneha ‘IMAGINE876’ Shrestha, a Boston-based artist who is contributing to the mural wall described her style as ‘mindful mantras in [her] native language where [she meshes] the aesthetics of Sanskrit scriptures with graffiti influences.’

“Shrestha wrote in an email she wanted to give back to the Boston community as it was the first place she was exposed to the art of graffiti.

“ ‘As a kid from Nepal, I didn’t grow up seeing graffiti or much of any sort of art,’ Shrestha said. …

“Shrestha wrote the location of Underground at Ink Block excited her because it was near her first employer Artists for Humanity, a nonprofit which works to employ under-resourced urban youth interested in art and design, according to their website.

“ ‘My first job out of college was at Artists for Humanity and this is where I realized the effect of art on young people and how I can contribute to being an agent of positive change through art,’ Shrestha said. ‘It feels full circle in a lot of ways to have a mural here as my token of gratitude to this place.’ ”

Tim Logan at the Boston Globe, wondered whether getting to the park will be too challenging for people who are not going between the neighborhoods anyway.

He writes, “Drawing people to a place like this takes work, said Bob Uhlig, president of the Boston landscape architecture firm Halvorson Design. Color will help, he said; so will good lighting. Filling the place with popular, consistent programming will go a long way toward making it a destination, much as the Lawn on D has become, he added.

“ ‘That really adds another level of vibrancy, having something programmed on a regular basis,’ Uhlig said. ‘You want to get people to come back, repeatedly.’

“And, he said, you want the locals to use it. There’s a row of big buildings going up just a block away along Harrison Avenue, which will add thousands of residents to a corner of the city with relatively little park space. This is a chance to create some, even if it’s below a highway.”

More at the Free Press, here, and at the Globe, here.

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Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
“You’re free to be yourself here and grow in so many ways,’’ said Phedorah, a worker at More Than Words. Boston landlord Stuart Rose is supporting the nonprofit with low rent in Boston’s pricey South End.

I’ve often thought how a charitable landlord could give new life to a town where empty storefronts are proliferating. Of course, a landlord needs to make a living like anyone else, but supporting artists or worthy causes when he has many buildings can increase the value of all his properties.

Stuart Rose is a landlord offering low rent to a charity, and it isn’t even in a decaying neighborhood. He is really just doing good.

Rose is supporting More than Words, “a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers youth who are in the foster care system, court involved, homeless, or out of school to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business.”

Megan Woolhouse writes at the Boston Globe, “Raise a toast, the former Medieval Manor, boarded up for more than a year, will come to life again as a sprawling used bookstore with an unusual social mission.

“It will be run by More Than Words, a nonprofit whose employees are youth from troubled backgrounds who often live in foster homes and homeless shelters.

“Moreover, the owner of the building on East Berkeley Street elected to give More Than Words discounted rent instead of giving in to the tide of gentrification washing over this corner of the South End. The five-story brick building is surrounded by some of the most expensive new real estate in the city, with its neighbor, the Troy, charging as much as $4,600 for a unit.

“ ‘This is 100 percent the convergence of everything right in the world,’ said Jodi Rosenbaum, who founded More Than Words 13 years ago. ‘You don’t see that very often.’ …

“The building has been owned by Stuart Rose for decades, who agreed to lease Medieval Manor’s former space to More Than Words at below-market rate for 13 years. Rose declined to be interviewed, saying through a spokesman that he didn’t want to be ‘knighted’ for his good deeds. …

“More Than Words describes itself as a social enterprise, and provides on-the-job training for youth who have faced problems in court, at home, or in school and struggled to find work. More than 70 percent of its youth have been involved with the foster care system and 40 percent in the courts. The teens also receive intensive case management working with counselors, who help them work through issues and identify goals. …

“The first-floor space will need a significant renovation after decades as a bawdy haven for Renaissance meals. More Than Words has launched a $5 million fund-raising campaign, and Rosenbaum said Liberty Mutual has already donated more than $1 million after its chief executive, David Long, visited the facility.”

Read about all the plans at the Globe, here. There’s more on the youth program here. It’s a great organization, and I can say on the basis of numerous visits to the storefront in Waltham, you’re sure to find a good book there.

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Photo: Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
Malika MacDonald is director of the Amal Women’s Center, which provides shelter for Muslim women and children in need of temporary housing.

When I was working at the central bank, we had a Hubert Humphrey Fellow visit us from Bahrain. One aspect of America she was studying was homelessness. She said there was no homelessness in her country. She said families would never let it happen; they would take people in.

Having no way to know whether that was true in every case, I was nevertheless intrigued. Was it something about the culture in a Muslim country?

One thing I do know is that in this country, alas, Muslim women and children like other women and children, sometimes find themselves in need of temporary housing. That was the impetus for a new center in Boston, the brainchild of an Egyptian-American college student.

Lisa Wangsness wrote about the initiative at the Boston Globe. Here is the part of the article that touched me the most.

“The project began six years ago, when Mona Salem, then a 20-year-old Egyptian-American college student, was trying to help a young Muslim friend who wanted to escape a foster home where she felt unsafe.

“Salem thought her friend would feel most comfortable in a Muslim-run shelter for women, but soon discovered none existed in Boston. So she began raising money to start one, and teamed up with [Malika MacDonald, the national director of the Islamic Circle of North America Relief USA’s Transitional Housing Network.] …

“Donations poured in from every direction. Dishes and pots and pans for the kitchen arrived from families affiliated with the Framingham and Wayland mosques. A man offered his Home Depot credit card to pay for lighting. Various groups and individuals sponsored each of the bedrooms, furnishing them with bright-colored bedding and art for the walls.

“Salem said she was near tears when she saw the finished house the other day.

“ ‘That place was a dump when we first got there, and now it’s beautiful — absolutely beautiful,’ she said. ‘That says a lot about . . . how strong we are as a community to help one another.’

“Help arrived from beyond the local Muslim community as well. An artist in Texas sent an Arabesque Moroccan ceiling medallion for the living room. A board member of the interfaith group Kids4Peace Boston donated a lacquered dining table and banquette. The founder of a planned shelter for transgender people in Indiana sent along bathroom towels, MacDonald said.”

I suspect many of those donors know what it’s like to feel different and look for comfort.

More at the Boston Globe, here.

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